I really loved being a part of the Celtics during that race. I loved being there with him. It was thrilling. The other side of the coin is that I think we are overrated now. I think the performance was a bit too much in the mind of the public, or in my own mind, because that’s what I’m saying. [We were] One finalist and two wins away from winning it, but when you look back, Brooklyn was a tough series, and then we got to play seven games. [against the Bucks and Heat], then we lost [to Golden State], Therefore, we are not a repeat team as Eastern Conference champions. I think we are a quality team.
we added Malcolm [Brogdon]and now [Danilo Gallinari] There have been injuries, but we have put him in a good, quality team. And we are in the mix. There are probably five or six teams that you could say are competitive teams, and I definitely think we’re on that list… but I’m wary of overconfidence. And anyone who asks me what I think of the team, I’m saying I don’t want to overrate us.
You’re a title-winning favorite, but it looks like you’re trying to lower those expectations?
I am, but I’m not trying to do it in any manipulative way. I think so. Look, I will not choose anyone ahead of me. But I don’t think we have any smooth sailing ahead. We were a good team last year that won some important close games and were in the mix. But I don’t have one as our favorite. As far as I’m concerned, there are five or six co-favorites.
What was your direction to Brad Stevens, President of Basketball Operations, after last season ended?
Do whatever it takes to get better, because we weren’t good enough. So do whatever it takes to get better. And he boiled the sea. He did everything he could think of to make us better.
Now that Brad has had a few summers in this post, what are the differences between him and working with Danny Ange?
I think Brad is very mentor. He loves to talk and hash things out. Danny is more set on his ways and has an opinion. Brad is eager to get all the information and learn as much as he can. They’ve organized spreadsheets and you can click on presentations and click on anything and it goes into the data behind the statement. It’s very impressive.
What he did to build the team was fantastic. It was not luck. He did a good job of looking at things and seeing what they should be doing. Those moves were well thought out and did a great job building the team.
Hence, his data-driven, analytical approach mixes with a really warm personality. I am sure that his relationships with other general managers are open and conversational. I’m not on those calls, but Brad has a lot of mutual warmth and a lot of data. And I think Danny is more like a former pro athlete. [He’s] Weird as hell, but more like seat-of-the-pants.
There has been a lot of discussion about your approach to the luxury tax. You are clearly going to be a tax team this year. , ,
I think we’re spending about $200 million on the roster this year, and Brad has the green light to spend more. People can write or think whatever they want. Or, you can really see what we do, that is, we do whatever it takes to win the championship. And we are in a position to fully add up right now. Are you going to trade future draft picks and young players under 30? This is expected not to happen. But money is no consideration, and this roster reflects that.
You said Brad has the green light to spend more. How do those conversations go?
We are not worried about it. Just tell us which one you want. When Brad puts the roster together, he is put together at the base of the basketball. Let’s put it like this.
Jason Tatum is apparently still at the center of this whole operation. How can he continue to grow?
I can’t take my eyes off Jason when he’s on the court. He is superb. He is a great player. People keep saying it’s the reverse from here, and it’s hard to even imagine it. I just give him a lot of credit for building his game. Every year, he’s gotten better. He was fantastic last year, and off the court he is a great man. I just like to have him here. I’m thrilled that he’s here, and I’ve seen photos of his workouts all summer long, so I think he’s taking this very seriously. I think he’s really looking forward to showing people some stuff.
It was another summer in which some of your top players were in business rumours. Do you ever reach out to them?
Teams call each other all the time with just about anyone on the roster. Any general manager will tell you that they’ve mentioned everyone on their roster name to another general manager most weeks of the year. It’s completely true. Now, you can mention a player by saying, “Don’t ask me about that,” but the name is still mentioned. But most of the rumors you see are agents trying to put their player’s name on paper because it makes other teams think, “Well, if the Celtics are interested, we should be interested too. ” Now, this isn’t a comment for anything this summer, but in general, I think, a true comment.
Do you have any concerns entering the year? Things that worry you?
Well, we had a slow start last year, and an even slower middle. I think there are a lot of expectations and the players are putting a lot of expectations on themselves, which we like. We want them to aspire for a banner. I think every fan including me, we are absolutely inclined to have a banner. Last year was a free, easy year. There were low expectations. We changed the front office and coaching staff, a new roster.
Now there are high hopes and we are in favor of victory. And we fell last with less pressure. Therefore, I am apprehensive. I’m definitely unsure how we begin. I hope we start strong and start kicking people [butts], But I don’t know if that will happen for sure. This is one of the reasons I am saying to anyone who will listen, including anyone who will read this newsletter, that I think it is dangerous to overrate our playoff performance. We were 3-1 in four tough series, and there are no banners. We are in the mix, but we have to prove it.
What did you see in Coach Ime Udoka last year?
Ime clearly has coaching chops. This was his first time head coaching and growing into the role, but he developed the ability to lead this roster through the fire and win some tough games. So, it was very impressive.
You are honoring Bill Russell in the opening night against the 76ers. Can you share something about what’s planned?
We are planning a celebration and we are in consultation with his widow and her family, and on top of that is the sensitivity to do anything. But we’re going to honor Bill Russell. It is not clear whether the family wants a big celebration. This is not a knock on Boston or the Celtics. It feels like they aren’t sure at the moment what feels right.
But we will certainly honor Bill on Opening Night, and we plan to create something in his memory on some of the imagery and uniforms on the court. But it is still under discussion. We are very focused on doing what we can, but we want to make sure the family is happy.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
Honoring Russell and playing the Sixers opening night. Christmas night against the Bucks at home. Let’s take them both. Listen, I want to take this team all the way. I want to go all the way, and we’ll be watching every game like a hawk, and if there’s a way to improve the team along the way, I’m sure we’ll do it. But I really like the rooster at the moment, and I like our chances to make some noise.
Adam Himmelsbach can be contacted at email@example.com. follow him on twitter @adammhimmelsbach,